Dec 26, 2015 | By Tim Powers
The Second Step of Alcoholics Anonymous: The Concept of Hope and a Higher Power
12 Step RecoveryAdmitting that you are an alcoholic with every fiber of your being in undoubtedly one of the biggest obstacles to overcome in your journey towards sobriety.
In the previous article regarding the First Step of AA, being able to truly come out and admit with your head and heart that your life has spun out of control because of your alcohol abuse is an all or nothing step. If you aren’t able to fully see the consequences of your alcoholism, the chances you have of moving forward with your recovery in a meaningful fashion are slim to none.
Moving From Despair and Towards Hope: The Second Step of AA
Once you are able to become completely honest with yourself in regards to your addiction to alcohol, it can leave you in a state of shock and despair. You may feel a tremendous amount of guilt and shame in losing control of your life. While you may feel lost and directionless at this juncture in your early recovery, the Second Step of Alcoholics Anonymous offers hope and healing if you are able to believe that a power outside of yourself can restore your sense of sanity and your life.
The Second Step of AA reads as follows:
Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
With that one statement, the second step of Alcoholics Anonymous explicitly lays out the spiritual foundations of what the 12 Steps are all about; in order to recover from the disease of alcoholism in mind, body and spirit, you must come to realize that you must look outside of yourself and rely on a greater power. It sounds simple enough, but like the initial step, the second step of Alcoholics Anonymous can be a huge stumbling block for people to internalize and accept.
By their very nature, 12-Step programs have a strong spiritual undercurrent that run through them, and people who don’t particularly identify themselves as being spiritual beings may have great difficulty understanding this step. For them, the concept of reaching out to God or a Higher Power in order to get and stay sober is met with significant reluctance. While these feelings are certainly understandable, if people cannot find a way to grasp the notion they need to leave their ego and self aside and look outward for help they will continue to be stuck in the vicious cycle of addiction.
Understanding The Higher Power Concept
Oftentimes it is the second step of AA that causes people to abandon their involvement in a 12-Step program because of the whole higher power concept. As stated earlier, 12-step programs have a strong spiritual foundation, and concepts of God and a Higher Power are dominant. In looking at the Steps themselves, the Higher Power concept is found in 6 of the 12 Steps. While those people who turn away from 12-step programs do so because they feel they in order to become a part of the program they must “find God” or “find religion”–and this is simply not true.
A higher power in context of a 12-Step program can mean anything that is outside the self. The main benefit of utilizing the higher power concept is that it each person can conceptualize their higher power as they wish. It makes it possible for a Christian to follow the steps alongside a Buddhist, an agnostic or even an atheist.
Most people interpret higher power as meaning God, but it does not have to be interpreted this way. It is left up to the individual to decide how they wish to define it. There are no rules except that this power has to be greater than the individual. The most common “higher powers” that addicts in 12-Step programs use include music, nature, the universe and even humanity as a whole.
The Benefits of Accepting a Higher Power in Recovery
For those who can fully accept the second step of AA and embrace a Higher Power, it can have tremendous benefits in their recovery journey and their life journey as a whole. First and foremost, those who can learn to lean on a Higher Power in their recovery will feel less overwhelmed with the process. When people can rely on a power greater than themselves they can draw strength from that belief and it makes it easier to forgive others and let go of resentments.
By adopting a Higher Power in recovery, people can learn to let go of the things they cannot control and focus on what they can do in the present. Additionally, a Higher Power can give those in recovery a sense of purpose in life which includes helping others who are struggling with alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse.
How Can You Find a Higher Power?
If you are struggling with the Second Step of Alcoholics Anonymous and need help finding ways to find a Higher Power of your own understanding, the following tips will help you find what you are looking for:
Be Open Minded
One way to cultivate a higher power in your recovery is to keep you mind open and be receptive to different philosophies and idea. You don’t have to agree with everything, but concentrate on listening and thinking openly. Take in all information and then make a decision whether it works for you or not.
Dedicate some time to be by yourself; no music, no cell phone, no TV. If you haven’t learned any mindful meditation techniques, now is the time to learn. These techniques are easy to master, can be done anywhere and can be extremely beneficial if you have at least 15 minutes a day to devote to this practice. Being able to do this consistently will help you increase your self-awareness.
Devote more of your life to helping others. When we help other people, all of our own fears and insecurities disappear because we are focused on something outside of ourselves. Serving others is a direct line to understanding a higher power. When you feel the result of a good deed, it is its own reward and you will likely feel a part of something much greater and it help strengthen your recovery.
You must stay open to new ideas and discoveries. No one will ever completely understand God. The more answers you find, the more questions you will have. This is a good thing because your willingness to search is directly correlated with your willingness to grow. No matter how content, how old, or, how confident we may become, it is critical that we always keep our mind and our hearts open.
Are You Searching For Help With Your Addiction?
If you are struggling with alcoholism or another form of substance abuse, you can feel overwhelmed with guilt and shame and you may not know who to talk to or where you can turn. Fortunately, the experienced and compassionate staff at Sober Nation can help you. As recovering addicts ourselves, we know the struggles of asking for and finding help, and we can provide you with the resources you need to start on the road to recovery.